Green Tinted Glasses Presents: Atlantic 10 Schedule Breakdown Part I
As members of THE Niner Nation, we’ve been relying on the use of Green Tinted Glasses since the very first buzzer sounded to end the Gardner-Webb game. However, a new season starts with conference play. An at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament has been a pipe dream since the Charleston Classic, but we are a very different and much improved team from the one that walked off the court after playing two overtimes against Coastal Carolina to no avail. Since then Shamari Spears was removed from the roster, the Hornet’s Trophy was lost and Charlotte helped send the 7th ranked team in the nation into a tailspin. With Charlotte’s 4-game win streak, including 2 BCS scalps, the Green Tinted Glasses can be taken off and the 49ers momentum going into A10 play is still very visible.
The Atlantic 10 is having a… different year, to say the least. Temple is still the class of the league, Richmond and Xavier have some questionable losses, but they did last year too. Dayton has loaded up on home-wins over scrubs, Rhode Island nearly knocked off Pitt in their season opener, Saint Louis has struggled as you would expect a team too after sitting 2 great players, while Massachusetts came back to earth quickly from their quick start. The rest of the Atlantic 10 teams aren’t setting the world on fire unless you consider Fordham getting more than 3 wins an explosion. But their are a lot of questionable losses considering how strong the conference looked going into the season.
Let’s break this 16 game slate down into quarters, equal quarters no less, of…4 games apiece. The Atlantic 10 season is broken down into 18 “mini-weeks” of a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday or Saturday-Sunday combination, each team receiving two byes, some of which are used for non-conference games.
Wednesday January 5th- at Richmond(11-4): The Spiders come into conference play looking vulnerable , dropping a contest to Georgia Tech by 13-points in the Bahamas, and a stunning 1-pt loss at home to Bucknell on Sunday. Richmond has one of the Atlantic 10′s three wins over Top 10 ranked teams, with an 11 point win over then #8 Purdue in the Chicago Invitational final. Also among their strong wins are a road wins at Arizona State and Seton Hall as well as a home win over CAA contender VCU. The other 2 losses come on the road at another CAA contender, Old Dominion, and at the early MAAC favorite, Iona.
Saturday January 8th- at St. Bonaventure(7-5): Charlotte will be the A10 home opener for the second time in four days when they travel to Olean to face St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies have gotten out to an above average start, by St. Bonaventure standards, highlighted by a road win against the Steve Lavin’s Saint John’s squad. Andrew Nicholson has been downright dominate so far, and will be a real test inside for Phil Jones and Chris Braswell. The Bonnies still dropped a couple of questionable decisions on the road to Canisius and at home to Niagara.
Wednesday January 12th- Atlantic 10 Bye
Saturday January 15th- vs. Fordham(6-6): For a team that was only able to muster five wins TOTAL in the last two seasons, the only thing to say about the Rams is For-DAAAAAAAAAAMN. Most of these wins are fluff wins, although games they would have dropped the last two seasons, but Tom Pecora was also able to lead his team to a win over Saint John’s at home. The Fordham Rams will still be a welcome sight for the 49ers who could lose a lot of the momentum from non-conference play by playing two on the road to open Atlantic 10 play.
Wednesday January 19th- vs. Massachusetts(8-5): The Minutemen come to Halton Arena to close out our two game road stand, and hopefully Coach Major’s game plan only involves using only 5 players at a time to beat them. Massachusetts got off to a 7-0 start, included a non-D1 game, before crashing down with four straight losses. None of their wins have much strength and the losses at home to Maine and a shellacking at the hand of Central Connecticut State to close the non-conference schedule show that the Minutemen are far from contenders.
The Niners will have to battle if they want to steal a road win or two to open up the A10 season. A win at Richmond might be too much to ask for, and Olean provides a much tougher environment than Georgia Tech’s Thrillerdome. The team absolutely must take their first 2 home games, which they will easily. 49erFanatics 1st-quarter prediction: 2-2
Saturday January 22nd- at Duquesne(7-5): The Niners will go on the road to face a Dukes team that has so far gone 6-5 against D1 competition, with 2 non-conference games yet to play. Duquesne’s record lacks any type of a signature win, their best performance being a moral victory in losing by 3 at home to West Virginia.
Wednesday January 26th- at Temple(9-3): The Owls are back to their old tricks again, having only dropped 3 of their non-conference games to date with matches against Penn and Duke forthcoming. Temple has collected 4 BCS scalps so far, included another one of the A10′s 3 Top-10 wins at home against then #10 Georgetown. They Owls came close to getting a second Top 10 win at Villanova, but the Wildcats finished strong. None of their losses are horrible, the worst being to Cal, and they are expected to be one of the teams who run away with the conference this season, and will in all likeliness run away with this game.
Saturday January 29th- vs. La Salle(Operation La Sellout)(7-7): The Explorers come into conference play with a .500 record against an okay schedule, back-loaded with losses. La Salle will be desperate to create momentum in A10 play, which could be difficult as they start on the road at George Washington before hosting Richmond. This will be a must-win game for Charlotte, as they will need to take care of all the mid/low-level A10 teams at home to have a decent seeding for the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Wednesday February 2nd- vs. Xavier(Whiteout)(8-4): Chris Mack’s Musketeers will becoming into Halton Arena just a few days after a trip to Richmond, which will be a tough out, so the Niners might have a shot at Xavier while they are down, which worked to our favor a couple of years ago. Xavier’s best non-conference win was over 2010 National Finalist Butler in the confines of the Cintas Center, a rematch of the infamous “stopwatch game” of a year before. Xavier did drop one to Miami U on the road, but have taken care of everyone else they should have on their schedule. The Musketeers play Cincinnati on Thursday before beginning A10 play.
The only one of this bunch that is out of reach would be the game at Temple. The Niners are capable of beating this Duquesne team on the road and a Xavier team that has struggled when leaving the confines of the Cintas Center. I would not be surprised if this team won one of those, but 2 is a stretch. The Explorers shouldn’t have a chance with Operation La Sellout in effect at Halton Arena. 49erFanatics 2nd-quarter prediction: 2-2
Check out Part II tomorrow for 3rd and 4th quarter breakdowns as well as an official(and biased) Green Tinted Glasses prediction of the Atlantic 10 standings.